If you’re a tried-and-true Friends fanatic, you will likely have seen every episode of all 10 seasons multiple times. It follows, then, that you have also probably seen every promo of the six friends, too, or at least the most famous ones that are everywhere: the friends sipping milkshakes, the friends walking down the street after a wedding, the friends sitting on a construction beam over New York City, the friends holding a picture frame around themselves, and so on and so forth. Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey have become iconic television characters that will go down in history as some of the most beloved ever, and their photos will be looked at forever.
Even though there are plenty of individual and group promo shots of the bunch, it seems that we only ever come across those few we have already seen a million times. But over the course of 10 years, the decade in which Friends aired, of course there were tons of other promos made. For whatever reason, some just became more famous than others. And the ones that faded into obscurity stayed that way. Until now. I am here to present you with the lesser-known images of the Friends cast, the show’s promo shots that never made it big. They were seen, yes, but not on the scale that the others were.
I think you will agree that the following 20 promo photos are just as awesome as any of the familiar ones we know and (still) love. It is fun to see different images of the characters we fell in love with so long ago now, and who will forever have a place in our hearts. Have you seen these pictures before? I am willing to bet that even the most die-hard Friends fan will come across at least a few on this list that are new to his or her eyes; I did.
20. The One Where They’re Laying on the Stairs
And by the looks of it, stairs that are quite uncomfortable. Wearing decidedly early to mid-90’s clothing, this promo was definitely taken in the early days of Friends, before anyone knew what a big success it would turn out to be. Sitting on a stoop or front steps is one thing, but why are they laying down on them? It is both awkward and makes no sense, but we’ll go with it. The friends look happy (although Rachel and Phoebe kind of look like they are in pain), but I wonder whose steps these are supposed to be? None of the friends live in a place with a walk-up like this, at least not that we ever see. It is likely that the setting for this promo was just the streets of New York City, which is where the show takes place for all 10 seasons. In fact, the gang rarely leaves the city, except for Ross’ wedding in London, Ross’ business conference in Barbados, visiting Joey in Las Vegas, going to the beach, Chandler’s transfer to Tulsa, and various (but few and far between) smaller weekend trips. They board and deboard planes sometimes, like to China, Yemen, and Paris, but for 10 whole seasons, that is not a lot of travel outside of the Big Apple.
19. The One Where They’re Cool
These six oddballs are not only friends and professionals, they are also cool cats, as illustrated by this lesser-known promo photo. We as viewers, and even the characters themselves, know that they are dorks at heart. But here they go for a super cool look with the shades and the rock ‘n roll equipment. With the exception of Phoebe’s guitar-playing and silly songwriting, not one of the friends is a musician. In fact the closest any of the others come to that is Joey’s acting, which is a different form of performance art. He attempts to learn guitar too, but does not excel at it. The only other time the friends try their hand at music is when Rachel plays the drums (badly) in one episode, and in another, Ross plays the bagpipes (also badly), hoping to convince Chandler and Monica to let him do so at their wedding. So it is interesting that they are posing in front of band equipment, but we’ll roll with it.
18. The One on the Sidewalk
Never once did we see any of the friends drinking coffee on the sidewalk- at a café, at a friend’s house, anywhere. Really, we only ever saw them drink coffee at the Central Perk or at home. So while this is a nice photo of all of them, and the backdrop is nice as well, it was not taken from a scene from the show or anything. Obviously, this promo was made in the early years of Friends. You can tell they are much younger here than they were when the show ended in 2004. Set in Manhattan and following the lives of six best friends through their 20’s and 30’s, this picture does do a good job, however, of portraying what the show is all about: friendship, the good times, and New York City. Since coffee is also a huge part of the show in terms of Central Perk, the fact that they are drinking coffee in this promo is representative of the show, as well.
17. The One at the Beach
This beach shot was obviously taken in the later seasons; you can tell by the hairdos, outfits, and the fact that the friends all look just a little more mature. This image was an eighth season promo taken as the show neared its end. It is a casual, relaxed image of the six besties chilling on the grassy, sandy beach. Throughout the years, the friends had a few beach episodes, although the most memorable was probably the 1997 episode aptly-titled, “The One at the Beach”, in which the gang heads to the beach to learn more about Phoebe’s family. While there, Rachel convinces Ross’ girlfriend Bonnie to shave her head, Ross and Rachel get back together, and Joey and Chandler pee on Monica, who gets stung by a jellyfish. It was an eventful trip, especially for Phoebe, who met her birth mother.
16. The One That Looks Like a Selfie
Have you seen this humorous Friends selfie? I hadn’t, until I specifically sought out the rare photos of the famous gang. Even though during the show’s run (1994-2004), selfies were not really a thing yet, apparently this group was ahead of its time. You can see that the relatively young-looking cast must have been in the earlier years of filming since they look to be closer to their 20’s than 30’s. But in reality, this was no selfie, at all. It is the friends looking down at Baby Ben, Ross’ new son (by his ex-wife, Carol). Now it makes more sense, huh? Still, the photo is perfect for promotional purposes and you would really never guess that that is what they are doing (until you know that is what they are doing, and then it seems kinda obvious).
15. The One in Bed
This is a cute (if strange) photo of the six of them, although I am dying to know why Rachel is the only one awake. Everyone else is slumbering peacefully, but she is wide awake and staring at the camera. She is either creeped out, or the one who is creepy; I cannot tell. Anyhow, there were a series of promos shot of the friends laying in bed together, and this is one of the less famous ones. In one big giant spooning train, this photo could be taken in one of two ways: either they are just really close friends and it is sweet, or they are way too close to be healthy. But hey, at least Ross and Monica are not next to each other; there were a few occasions throughout the series in which the brother and sister duo seemed a little too close.
14. The One Where They’re Cowboys
I do not really know what to think about this here photo…. There are not any episodes that see the gang at a ranch, or out west other than Las Vegas. So this promo, taken during the early seasons of Friends, seems a little random. It is so out-there even before realizing that the horse has been digitally stretched to make room for all six butts. The New Yorkers look pretty out-of-place acting like cowboys, especially when, as I said before, the extent of their experience out west are trips to Las Vegas and Chandler’s business trips to Tulsa, if you can consider that “west”. Even when it comes to the countryside, the only time these city-dwellers venture to anywhere rural is the aforementioned beach episode, a few trips to cabins here and there, and a road trip. However, this promo is only one of the embarrassing pictures the cast took over the 10 years Friends was on television.
13. The One Where They’re Gambling
The friends look like they are back in Vegas in this promo. They play cards or gamble once in awhile throughout the series, so it is not as random as some of these promos seem. The most memorable instance of gambling is, of course, when Chandler and Monica get engaged (for the first time) in Las Vegas. But before that, Phoebe deals with a “lurker”, Joey meets and stalks his “identical hand twin”, and Ross draws with permanent marker on Rachel’s face. This leads them to stay in the hotel room getting wasted. Then she draws on his face and they go out into the hotel casino and get married, making her his third wife and the butt of every marriage joke on the show from there on out. It is the precursor, so to speak, of Rachel “stealing Monica’s thunder” when she really gets engaged to Chandler later, because despite getting engaged on a bet, Rachel gets married the same night.
12. The One in the 20’s
This is as random and crazy as it gets. The six friends posed for a promo with what looks to be a roaring 1920s kind of theme, and we don’t know why. Unlike many shows these days, there is no time travel or even a mention of the 1920s in all 10 seasons of Friends. So your guess is as good as mine. Luckily, there is plenty to make fun of in this shot, like the guys’ suspenders, the girls’ hoochie-mama outfits, and well, pretty much everything about the picture. It looks to be for a magazine shoot, probably accompanying an article about the show, but who knows? This photo depicts Ross as kind of a tough guy (which he is so not), Phoebe as sexy (nope), and Monica as kinda bitchy (they got that part right, at least). Chandler does smoke, Rachel can be slutty sometimes, and Joey, like usual, looks lost. So for the most part, this photo does the characters justice.
11. The One With the Silhouettes
I have seen this promo both as above, and as the actual photo, with no black background and without the words, “I’ll be there for you”, which as we know is in the theme song of every single episode and sums up the relationship of the six friends. It looks a little strange and pixelated here, but it is meant to. A more serious photo of the friends if ever there were one, this promo came out later on in the series, which is obvious by their faces. In practically every other promo and photo still that there is of the group, they are smiling, being silly, or doing something to make us laugh. That is the nature of the show, after all. It is a sitcom, and it is fitting that the photos of the cast are funny. So this promo is very different in that way; it has a serious tone, probably characteristic of the fact that viewers and the actors alike were sad about the end of the show.
10. The One With the Tug-of-War Match
It looks like Ross is holding off the girls just fine on his own in this tug-of-war promo. Again with the randomness, this photo sees the three ladies wearing ridiculously high heels, mini-skirts, and bra-tops to their tug-of-war match with the non-chalant and barefoot guys. As we know from the Halloween episode where Ross (dressed as the clever “Spud-nik”) and Chandler (dressed as a big pink bunny), have an arm wrestling contest, they are of equal strength. But it seems like Ross does not need his buddy’s help in this match; his weight alone seems to do the trick. For their parts, Chandler and Joey look like they are just modeling and not a part of the contest at all, while Ross is apparently talking to them. Amusingly, the girls with their wind-blown hair are all posing like they are modeling too, leaving Ross the only one that is really “in” the moment.
9. The One With the Stacked Faces
This is a pretty awkward one. For some reason, all six friends’ faces are stacked on top of one another, vertically. Somehow, the actors and actresses all managed to keep straight faces and smile pretty for the camera, but they were probably used to having to do so by that point. I can think of several instances where they had to keep straight faces when things even funnier than this were going on. Examples include… when they all tackled Rachel to get her eye drops in, when they competed for apartments in a trivia game made by Ross, when everyone “knew each other knew”, during all the flashback scenes (especially the fat Monica ones), when Chandler did his dance or nervously fake-laughed, when Ross dressed up as the “Holiday Armadillo”, when Joey got locked in the TV stand, any time Janice was around, any time there was a joke about Ross’ love life, and so on and so forth. Basically, it was a 10-season-long run of trying to keep a straight face.
8. The One With the Staircase
…As if any of them lived in a house. Literally, the only time we see any of the six of them climbing or descending a staircase is in their own apartment building, when Ross and Rachel attempt to get his new couch upstairs, when they go to look at Chandler and Monica’s potential new house, or in very few and far between (and random) scenes. So it is odd to have the group of friends posing in front of a staircase and bannister. Nevertheless, it is a nice picture of them all. Obviously, they look great all in white and denim, and also obviously, this promo was taken very early on, judging by the hairstyles and overall youthfulness of their faces. It was likely that whoever took the promo photo would not be concerned with the backstory of the stairwell and banister, and why should they be? A nice photo is a nice photo, although this one never did become as famous as the milkshake or construction site promos did.
7. The One That is Seemingly Normal
It does seem normal, does it not? Nothing overtly stands out about this photo- not the background, nor the pose, nor the clothes. Taken at the Central Perk (the coffee shop that is the location of the majority of the scenes in Friends, second only to the apartments above it), this photo is a nice portrayal of Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Ross, Joey, and Rachel. They are all together and happy in their second home, the coffee shop beneath the two apartments that, at one time or another over the 10 seasons, is the residence to every friend. You would not know this is the Central Perk without close scrutiny of the photo, because most pictures of it include the iconic orange couch they always sit on, the window where Phoebe plays the guitar and sings, or the bar with Gunther or Rachel behind it. Nevertheless, we know this was taken at the Central Perk because of the gray brick, the window corner, and the posted store hours. Plus, it is one of the only places that the friends look so happy and relaxed at.
6. The One With the Watermelon
This one is definitely very random, and one of the many that featured not the whole cast of Friends, but a pair of them. Here, we see Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Chandler (Matthew Perry). It is an odd pairing because they never dated, nor were they closer than any other two of the friends. Still, Chandler and Rachel were two of the favorites among the friends, so perhaps that is why they were paired off here. Then again, people have speculated that actually, the relationship between Chandler Bing and Rachel Green could be described as “ride or die”. Some instances of this are when they ate cheesecake together off the hallway floor, when Rachel helped Chandler become James Bond, when they hooked up in a dream, when they had a “pamper yourself day”, when high school flashbacks were shown, and when they were pathetic losers together. So they are no “Ross and Rachel” or “Chandler and Monica”, but they are friends to the end.
5. The One in the Bathroom
Yet another of the oddball Friends promos is this one with four of them in the bathtub, and all six of them in the bathroom (a bathroom that, by the way, is not one ever seen on the show and therefore belongs to none of them). Joey looks like he is out at sea, searching the horizon, Ross is doing some weird surfing/balancing act, Rachel is in the tub on an old-fashioned telephone, Phoebe is sitting pretty (but looking like she is above it all, also in the tub), Chandler has his famous rubber ducky, and Monica looks normal. Of course, maybe all of this nonsense is fitting, seeing as the six of them are all oddballs, themselves. This goofy promo reminds me, and probably everyone else, of the most memorable bathtub scene of Friends, where Chandler and Monica are taking a bubble bath, and she keeps having to hold her breath and go under when Joey walks in, in order to keep their relationship a secret. There was also the time Chandler was soaking in a bubble bath all by his lonesome…. until all of the friends for one reason or another wound up in the bathroom, too.
4. The One in the Car
I cannot say I know what is going on here exactly, except for a whole bunch more hullabaloo. Dressed strangely in retro clothing, inside an unrecognizable car (unless you’re Ross, in which case you are outside of it), this promo is just one more silly photo of the friends to add to the long list of silly photos of them. Since they live in the heart of New York City, none of them has a car of their own. However, throughout the series we see various members of the group acquire or drive a car. Phoebe drives her grandma’s old taxi. Monica is a given a convertible by her dad after all of her childhood memories are destroyed by a flood in the garage. Ross and Rachel are driving his car and both get pulled over one night. Joey pretends to own a Porsche parked on the side of the road to get girls. And in one episode, the guys even get to ride along in a cop car when Phoebe’s police officer boyfriend takes them on a ride-along. But the friends are never seen like they are above, whether in or out of any car.
3. The One With the Weird Shapes
Another promo created earlier rather than later in the series is this one, a photo of the friends posing awkwardly in random shapes. None of them appear to be too comfortable, which is not shocking when you consider their positions. That, coupled with the bright orange background and the overall WTF-ness of this picture, and it is not really shocking that this promo did not become one of the more famous ones. As attractive as the friends all are, this photo does not do much for them physically, and it is just not aesthetically-pleasing. It is just a random and confusing image, one that was made when the friends were much younger than they were at the end of the 10 seasons. Also a part of this photo shoot were snapshots of the friends both individually and paired off. One very strange one showed brother and sister Ross and Monica bent in L-shapes to form a box, (they were also in a white box, the likes of the ones seen above) with him kissing her forehead. It was pretty weird.
2. The One With the Clock
This promo is not quite as embarrassing or weird as some of the others, but it was also not one of the photos that became super famous of the bunch. It appears that the fountain pictures were preferable to this series of shots, which featured the six pals dressed all in black and posing around a clock in front of a bright red background. In this photo series, there were also images taken of just the guys and just the girls, some of which looked pretty silly. This particular photo is not silly, but rather normal when you compare them to some of the others we have seen. We’re not quite sure why the girls are barefoot and holding their shoes in the air, but oh well. They all look very happy and it is a fun picture, so it works.
1. The One at the Junkyard
Never seen this gem? Me, neither. As we already discussed, none of the friends own a car throughout the series except for a few times, because they live in the middle of the city where buses, taxis, walking, and the subway make more sense. So we’re not quite sure the reasoning behind the choice of setting for this promo. Standing between two piles of smashed-down cars, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe pose together looking kind of tough, while in the foreground Ross and Monica kneel down, holding hands in a very-obviously posed fashion. Nothing about this promo looks natural, or even makes any sense. But then, that is what is kind of awesome about it, too. My favorite is that Rachel and Phoebe are wearing nicer clothing, as is Chandler with the blazer over his signature sweater-vest. Junkyard fashion at its finest. The other three look slightly more in place.